The greatest show on Earth started in Iceland in March 2021. Reykjanes kicked into action and coughed up a new volcano in Geldingadalur, a secluded valley below Fagradalsfjall. What followed is a series of breathtaking events so incredible it has blown the minds of people around the world. Multiple craters appeared, erupting simultaneously, until one of them took over and turned into a giant lava geyser. Fagradalsfjall is one of the most versatile eruptions the world has ever witnessed. Read all about this extraordinary volcano (and how to get there) in this extensive article.
On the same day that Fagradalsfjall in Iceland subsided, the Cumbre Vieja volcano on La Palma cracked open a new crater and roared into life on 19 September 2021. But this is no friendly flowing volcano like the gentle Fagradalsfjall. Cumbre Vieja Natural Park offers stunning hiking routes amongst volcanic cones and giant craters. Now that this fierce volcano has settled down again, the Cumbre Vieja Ruta de los Volcanes (Volcano Route) is one of the finest walks you can do on La Palma.
Mount Taranaki looms majestically over New Plymouth, on its own peninsula on the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island. The mythical mountain is obscured from view most days of the year, shrouded by its low-hanging clouds. But now it stood there, clearly visible and beckoning in all its glory. I literally skidded to a halt when I saw it, and changed my direction there & then. It was calling me and I had to go. Mount Taranaki draws you in to explore its lofty top and many hiking tracks.
There are few natural phenomena as awe-inspiring as the magical northern lights. When the skies open up and flares of charged particles & energy from out of space come pouring in, it creates a display of light so magnificient it takes your breath away. Massive green curtains dropping down with purple tips on their edges, shifting and changing in all directions. It is literally out of this world. The northern lights will completely overwhelm you, to an extend where you can only utter sounds of sheer admiration, with a fading voice due to being blown away. But when can you see northern lights? Read about hunting the elusive Aurora Borealis in Iceland in this story.
The hot spring valley of Hveradalir in the Kerlingarfjöll mountains is something out of this world. Breathtaking views unfold into a steaming geothermal valley padded with snowfields clinging to the slopes, and shapes and colours so magnificient that you wonder if it’s even real. It’s like you’ve stepped into a surrealistic painting. Find out how to get to this otherworldly landscape and hike around the steaming valleys in the Icelandic highlands.
Útigönguhöfði is that ridiculously steep mountain you see looming everywhere in Thórsmörk and on the way down from Fimmvörðuháls. Climbing it is as challenging as pronouncing its name… The impressive Hvannárgil canyon runs below its slopes and together they form a beautiful circuit, with jaw-dropping views from one end to the other. See how to get there, and combine this walk with Hvannárgil canyon or the lower part of the Fimmvörðuháls route. Be prepared for some serious crawling up the rocks on either side!
The fabled valley of Thórsmörk is the stuff of fairytales and epic sagas. It’s so beautiful that it almost seems unreal. Thórsmörk is full of folded valleys and convoluted gorges, glaciers with volcanoes underneath and bizarrely shaped mountains. You have to see it for yourself to believe it’s real. These spectacular hikes are a great way to do so.
The Fimmvörðuháls hike between Skógar and Thórsmörk is nothing short of epic. This 26 kilometer walking route takes you over the fiery pass across Eyjafjallajökull and into the fabled valley of Thórsmörk. On the top of the pass you can see the giant lava flows and new craters from the 2010 eruption. But is it possible to do all this in one day? Read all about Fimmvörðuháls the easy way, the hard way, and an unexpected grand encore on that ridiculously steep (but utterly beautiful) Útigönguhöfði mountain.
This title may look a bit bewildering… It’s Icelandic for ‘Where the heart beats’, the anthemic song of Vestmannaeyjar. I was drawn to the Vestmannaeyjar islands at first sight, when I saw their mysterious shapes shimmering on the horizon. It was as if there’s an unexplained energy emanating out of it. I just had to go there. Heimaey is a spectacular island of volcanic peaks and jumbled rocks and the landscape is out of this world. Vestmannaeyjar is also home of the Þjóðhátíð festival in August. ‘Þar sem hjartað slær’ is the ultimate Þjóðhátíð song that captures the atmosphere of the Iceland National Festival like no other.
The Icelandic dalalæða is an elusive natural phenomenon of fog waterfalls. When it crawls up a valley and bumps into obstructions, it causes waterfalls of fog tumbling down the mountain tops. I was incredibly lucky to experience this, being at the right place at the right moment when it accidently happened. I stood right in the middle of it, and saw spectacular waterfalls of fog flowing over the rocks and mountains all around me. I’ve never seen anything like it. It was absolutely magical.